Now that voting for the 2019 NBA All-Star Game has begun, it's time to fill out those ballots .
Some decisions will likely be easier than others. Here on NBA.com, we're in agreement that LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Anthony Davis, Kawhi Leonard, Giannis Antetokounmpo and Joel Embiid should be the six starters in the frontcourt.
As for the four spots open in the backcourt, there was some disagreement.
In an attempt to figure out which two players in one of the conferences are more deserving than others, we thought it would be fun to do a blind resume by removing the names of the leading candidates and comparing their statistics.
Without knowing who Player A, B, C or D is, which two do you think should start in the backcourt based on these numbers?
Each player excels in a different area. Based on those statistics, Player A is a volume scorer, Player B is an incredibly efficient shooter, Player C is a facilitator and Player D is arguably the most well-rounded.
Their advanced numbers paint a similar picture:
So who are they?
Player A is Kemba Walker .
Player B is Kyrie Irving .
Player C is Kyle Lowry .
Player D is Victor Oladipo .
Statistics, of course, don't tell the whole story. To add some context, let's take a look at each player's case in slightly more detail.
The case for Kemba Walker
Already a two-time All-Star, Kemba Walker is having the best season of his career.
Walker got the season off to a strong start to a 41-point outing against Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks. A month later, he scored a career-high 60 points against the Philadelphia 76ers and followed it up with 43 points against the Boston Celtics in his next game.
In the process, Walker did something we've only ever seen from some of the greatest scorers in NBA history.
Kemba Walker is just the sixth player in NBA history to follow up a 60-point game with a 40-point game. The others are Wilt Chamberlain, Pete Maravich, Michael Jordan, Tracy McGrady, and Kobe Bryant.- Justin Kubatko (@jkubatko) November 20, 2018
The Charlotte Hornets went 1-2 in those games, but they currently have a 16-17 record on the season, putting them in the No. 7 spot in the Eastern Conference. Walker has been the driving force in their success, as he leads all Eastern Conference guards in scoring and ranks behind only six players - two of them being Kyrie Irving and Kyle Lowry - in assists.
Walker is doing all of that without much help as well. Jeremy Lamb and Malik Monk are the only other players on the roster scoring 10-plus points per game and Tony Parker and Nicolas Batum are the only other players dishing out two-plus assists per game.
Without Walker's playmaking, the Hornets go from scoring a respectable 110.5 points per 100 possessions to a dismal 104.5.
The case for Kyrie Irving
Through all of their ups and downs, the one constant for the Boston Celtics this season has been Kyrie Irving.
Irving's scoring has taken a slight hit compared to the last two seasons - not a huge surprise considering all the weapons the Celtics have now that they're healthy - but he's posting the second-best True Shooting Percentage of his career while averaging more assists, rebounds and steals than he ever has before.
It's not like the Celtics have completely ruined their chances of getting one of the top seeds in the Eastern Conference with their slow start, either. Having won six of their last 10 games, Boston is now only four games behind the Milwaukee Bucks at No. 2 and five games behind the Toronto Raptors at No. 1.
Helping Irving's case is that he's had a couple of big performances against teams ahead of the Celtics in the standings in front of national audiences. He scored a season-high 43 points in an overtime win over the Toronto Raptors on Nov. 16 and led the Celtics to an overtime win over the Philadelphia 76ers on Christmas Day with 40 points.
That Raptors win in particular could sway All-Star voters because, as NBA.com's Micah Adams noted when revealing his Eastern Conference starters , Irving got the better of Kyle Lowry, who finished the game with 14 points (3-12 FG), seven assists and four turnovers.
The case for Kyle Lowry
Kyle Lowry isn't scoring nearly as much as Kemba Walker, Kyrie Irving and Victor Oladipo, but he's handing out 9.8 assists per game, putting him behind only Russell Westbrook for most in the league.
Lowry is creating an average of 22.0 points per game for his teammates with those assists, which - again - trails only Westbrook.
Similar to Walker, Lowry got the season off to a blazing start . He led the Toronto Raptors to a 12-1 record while setting a franchise-record with nine straight double-digit assist games and shooting the ball as efficiently as Steve Nash in his prime.
Lowry hasn't been able to maintain that MVP-level production, and yet the Raptors continue to be a completely different team with him in the lineup. According to NBA.com , Toronto is outscoring opponents by 12.2 points per 100 possessions with their four-time All-Star on the court. With him on the bench? They're being outscored by 3.5 points per 100 possessions .
The Raptors have even been dominant in the games Lowry has played without Kawhi Leonard. They're 7-2 without their leading scorer this season, with wins over the likes of the LA Clippers, Golden State Warriors and Los Angeles Lakers.
With how well the Raptors have been playing - they currently have the best record in the league - there's an argument to be made that both Lowry and Leonard deserve to start in the All-Star Game.
The case for Victor Oladipo
Victor Oladipo proved that he was one of the best two-way players in the NBA last season, when he was named an All-Star and a member of the All-Defensive First Team for the first time in his career.
He isn't making quite the same impact this season, but Oladipo is still putting up All-Star worthy numbers as the best player on an Indiana Pacers team that currently has the third-best record in the Eastern Conference. He's shown his value the most in crunch time - the last five minutes of a five point game - by making 59.4 percent of his field goal attempts and 56.3 percent of his 3-point attempts.
11 players have scored more clutch points than Oladipo so far this season, but they've each played more games and done it in significantly more minutes. (Oladipo missed 11 straight games between mid-November and mid-December with a knee injury).
More importantly, the Pacers are 9-4 in the games Oladipo has appeared in that have gone down to the wire, giving him one of the league's better winning percentages in the clutch.
Oladipo is still by far and away the best defender on this list, too. He once again ranks near the top of the league in steals and a number of hustle stats, such as deflections and loose balls recovered.
If he can stay healthy between now and when voting ends, Oladipo is only going to make this decision tougher.